Middle Schools Selected for PACE Project

Guilford County Schools (GCS) announced the 16 middle schools that will participate in the first year of the Personalized Achievement Curriculum and Environment (PACE) project. The schools, which were randomly selected in keeping with the grant specifications, include: Allen, Aycock, Ferndale, Penn-Griffin, High School Ahead Academy, Guilford, Hairston, Jamestown, Johnson Street, Kernodle, Mendenhall, Northeast, Northern, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest Middle schools.

The PACE schools project will create and encourage student-led learning through personalized technology. It is funded by a $30 million Race to the Top-District grant GCS received from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant is the largest in GCS history, and will be used to purchase tablet technology for every student; offer training and support to students, families, teachers, and principals; and add PACE coordinators at the middle schools to lead this foundational change in teaching and learning.

These 16 middle schools will participate in the first year of the program, which will start in the 2013-14 school year. The remaining eight middle schools will join the program for the 2014-15 school year, reaching nearly 17,000 students and almost 1,400 faculty members. Middle school students in grades 6-8 (or age equivalent) enrolled at Gateway, McIver and Haynes-Inman will participate the first year as well, although there may be some differences regarding content and tools in order to meet students' individual needs .

The Guilford County Board of Education met for a work session on the PACE grant this morning. Some Board members expressed concern that some high-needs schools were not selected in the random process. The Board asked GCS staff to contact U.S. Department of Education officials to see whether Jackson, Eastern and Welborn Middle schools could be added to the first year of the program without impacting the grant award. GCS staff will report back to the Board as soon as they receive an answer.

The tablets will combine textbook learning with technology. Students will work through personalized "learning maps" that track each student's mastery of concepts. Students who need more time to master concepts can take it without pressure to rush, and those ready to dive deeper into topics can choose from enrichment and accelerated-learning activities that interest them.

The next step on the PACE project will be to select the vendor to provide the tablets, as well as the integrated content.

The PACE project is one part of the district's new Strategic Plan 2016. The focus will be to implement personalized technology in all 124 GCS schools, with students moving away from traditional textbooks and classroom lessons and moving toward access to global resources and the most up-to-date information available. Creating pathways for each student to learn the way that works best for him or her will increase opportunities for success, as well as prepare graduates for success in the 21st-century world.